appropriate relation between Confucianism and democracy

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Definition of democracy Before discussing the relationship between Confucianism and democracy, it is important to clarify what definition of democracy will be adopted as it sets the agenda and the framework of the analysis. As argued by many scholars, democracy is an essentially contested that there is no unitary definition can fit universally without regard to context (Whitehead, 1997). Basically, it can be classified into a procedural and substantive concept. Procedural democracy sets a lower threshold for democracy. According to Huntington (1991), the essences of democracy lay in ‘open, free and fair’ elections, regardless the qualities of government produced by them. Concurred with Schumpeter (1965), democracy is nothing more than an institutional arrangement of competitive struggle for people’s votes while Confucian perfectionist, Joseph Chan (2013), defines democracy as a value-free political system. On the other hand, democracy has long been linked with liberal values, for example equality, individual liberty and freedom of expression that today is often known as substantive concept of democracy. Held by Dworkin (1997), protection of rights and liberties shall be the basis of democracy that intrinsically embraced people as equals in the society. Highlighting the divergence between the definitions of democracy reveals different expectations from procedural and substantive concepts. Expectations, in return, influence the scope and direction of the analysis of compatibility of Confucianism and democracy. Confucianism: In conflict with democracy Confucianism, described by (Ackerly, 2005), is a moral code of ethics stressing on personal virtues, instead of upholding individual rights. It plays an indispensable guiding prin... ... middle of paper ... development. While in China, socialism, instead of Confucianism, is adopted as the state ideology, the root of Confucianism is deeply seated in the society that the Communist Party inexplicitly manoeuvres Confucianism as an attempt to mute opposition and to reinforce its control in the society. The same idea of prioritising social harmony over individual rights is borrowed by the Chinese government as an slogan in pacifying the dissatisfied people as well as a political tool in prosecuting those pro-democratic political dissidents who spread their ideas to the public (Venezia, 2010). Thus, Confucianism on one way limits individuals’ alternatives in safeguarding their freedoms and interests due to the consideration of interpersonal harmony while being manipulated by the states as a buffer of challenges to the regime, especially in authoritarian states like China.

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